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Ancient legend wins a lover’s favor

When you get tired of chocolate and roses as a form of courtship, why not go in for weaving and dancing? Today is China’s traditional Valentine’s Day — the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. And it recalls how a goddess weaver won the love of a mortal cowhand.

Dress up, sing, and dance. That’s the tribute these Gansu girls are paying to the fairy weaver who fell in love with a cowhand on earth. Ever since, the couple could only see each other once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

And for the seven days leading up to this anniversary, girls in the Longnan region prepare to show their talents — including weaving and public performance. Here on display at a cultural center in Longnan city is the handiwork of local girls.

The custom originated during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) some 1, 500 years ago, and thrived in the later Song Dynasty. The girls are all around 16 years old, the age when they were soon to be married in ancient times.

The seventh day of the seventh lunar month is also called the festival of “Girls Praying for Talent”. Associated activities are listed as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage.